The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now

Using a Tiny Bandage to Mend a Severed Limb?
January 19, 2008, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Media, Sports | Tags: , ,

From Becoming Somebody

Excerpt fun:

It would be fine if NBAE simply came out and admitted to the public that it is no longer trying to compete with credible sports-information web sites, publications, and TV networks, but is instead in the business of painting a rose-colored image of a sport often immersed in one PR disaster after another — players fighting with fans, players firing off guns outside strip clubs, coaches and executives sexually harassing employees, and referees involved in gambling scandals, to name a few. If it is so concerned that the truth will spoil its image, then it should maintain control of its product and all relevant methods of its dissemination. It should stop covering games, teams, and player news altogether and focus only on corporate and community initiatives. It should be honest with itself and its fans. But by entering into the highly competitive arena of live-event and news coverage, the NBA clouds the line between information source and PR tool.

I rarely go to — if I want to see game recaps and box scores, there’s Yahoo! Sports or (although that four letter word is probably a drunken rant for another time). I’ve never, ever figured out why bothers with game recaps and box scores to begin with when there are scads of *other* sources for the same thing. It is disconcerting to read the author’s account of how a postseason game recap was retooled so as not to offend a certain young uber-star and the apparel company with which he is closely associated. Why bother when the original, unadulterated account was already posted on other sports-information sites? Who is the NBA kidding here?

I certainly agree with the author, but I’d also like to add that maybe the NBA should be careful with how it covers its community and other initiatives. I’m sorry but the bad publicity that has beset the NBA in recent years isn’t going to be magically erased by showing This Player reading to a wide-eyed, pee-panted pack of grammar school children, or That Player collecting donations for a food bank, or This Other Player and Some of His Teammates putting up the frame of a Habitat for Humanity house.

Those are worthy, noble and good things, mind you (although — I think good works tend to matter more when they aren’t being breathtakingly documented for public consumption), but it bothers me that the NBA’s publicity wonks think its necessary to bludgeon everybody over the head with it.

This is just me, but when you’re Joe or Josephine Fan and you’re black and blue from all that, when you turn on ESPNews or open up the paper and see that Player A got caught discharging a weapon outside a titty bar, or Player B was accused of raping some girl, it just makes the otherwise noble mission of the NBA’s community service program akin to using a finger bandage to mend a severed limb.

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